Centrica ends links with British Gas

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The Independent Online
Centrica is cutting one of its last remaining ties with the old British Gas since this year's landmark demerger, by moving to new offices close to one of London's most exclusive shopping districts.

Though Centrica has already moved its head office to Slough, it has recently taken a long lease on a building in Clifford Street in the West End of London, just round the corner from Regent Street and the clothes shops on Saville Row.

The move to Clifford Street brings to an end the much criticised decision by the old British Gas to take over part of the palatial Adelphi building overlooking the Thames. The company, then led by chief executive Cedric Brown, occupied the two top floors in the art deco building behind the Strand, which has stunning views over the river.

British Gas was said to have paid a substantial one-off "premium" to take over the Adelphi offices from Eurotunnel at the beginning of last year, with an annual rent of pounds 1.3m on top. BG, now the pipeline and exploration division, has previously announced its move to offices in Jermyn Street, which are much larger than Centrica's.

Property sources said Centrica was paying pounds 42.50 per square foot for the 4,500 square feet of office space in deal worth pounds 191,000 a year. The building, which has been refurbished for the new tenant and is considered to be "modest" in size, is owned by Great Portland Estates, the property group and has a lease likely to last for up to 15 years.

A spokesman for Centrica confirmed that the contacts had been signed and the company would take over the building in the autumn. "We have need of London deskspace for directors and other staff who come to town. Our previous building was not really appropriate."

He said Roy Gardner, Centrica's chief executive, was unlikely to have a permanent office in the building, which would be used to hold meetings with other business contacts. "It's purely a base for people when they're in London. The executive offices are all in Charter Court in Slough," said the spokesman.

Estate agents are thought to still be seeking a new tenant to take over the Adelphi offices.